Dated data and a bias that shows

RESPECTED media watchdog Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility insisted on their pro-choice bias when it endorsed via Twitter the booklet “Understanding Population and Development: A Guide for Media.”

Published by CMFR itself, with funding from the United Nations Population Fund, the booklet presents itself as a guide that equips journalists with deeper insights on the population issue as well as practical tips in reporting about it.

But the book is 11 years old, published in 1999. The statistics cited in it are based on data gathered in 1998 at the latest. Where’s the push for relevant and updated information we have always expected from CMFR, a guardian of the standards of good Philippine journalism?

Of course, it was not a case of misinformation; CMFR is too dignified to descend to the lowest pits of unfair support for the controversial Reproductive Health bill (through one-sided description of the issue, a practice which CMFR somehow seems to advocate). Certainly CMFR wanted to direct its readers who are media practitioners to the publication’s practical how-to’s in population-and-development reporting.

But then, couldn’t they just lift excerpts of the material (the tips part is only two pages long) and publish them separately? Publishing the entire 25-page booklet online (for the apparent purpose of informing journalists about it, no matter how dated its data are) seems superfluous and even misleading.

On the brighter side, though, much of the publication is a thing for background research — that is, learning the history of CMFR’s pro-choice stance and getting some population data circa 1990s.

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